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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

NATURALISM                                        23

Two Berlin naturalists, Conrad Alberti and Karl Bleibtreu, wrote
fierily for M. G. Conrad's Die Gesellschaft. What distinguished the
Munich coterie from that of Berlin was that Conrad as long as he
lived, and his lieutenants at least to begin with, saw the salvation
of literature in Zola, while the Harts and later Arno Holz were -
to quote the article in the second number otKritische Waffengdnge -
for and against him. CONRAD ALBERTI (1862-1918) remains famous
for one sentence of his in Die Gesellschaft - it serves to illustrate
the Heldenlosigkeit of the naturalistic drama: 'Der Tod des gross fen
Helden steht hinsichtlich der kunstlerischen Vermrtbarkeit auf gleicher
Stiffe mit den Geburtswehen einer Kuh* KARL BLEIBTREU (1859-1928)
forced himself into the polemical foreground with his pamphlet
Revolution der Literatur (1886), a joke for historians of literature
less for its wild judgments than for the outrageous picture on its
jacket - an inkpot darting flashes of white lightning across a
blood-red background. The conceited style of this treatise marks
all Bleibtreu's critical work. His fiction Kraftkuren (i 884), Schlechte
Gesellschaft (i 886; a collection of Novellen), and Grossenwahn (1888;
a 'pathological noveP) reek with the miasmas of the great cities;
they expose the relations of artists and poets with prostitutes and
barmaids. Of his dramas, Schicksal (1888) shows his worship of
Napoleon; to the hero he fanatically loved and lauded are devoted
his Hyron-Stucke - LordBjrotts kt^te Liebe (18 81), Seine Tochter (1886),
B)>rons Geheimnis (1900). Seine Tochter is classed as the first Dar-
winian1 drama: the poet's daughter, brought up in innocent ignor-
ance of her father, finds his qualities in herself when she knows,
and wards off a warning friend with the words: 'Die Vererbung ist
unmderstehlich imd unuberwindlich? Bleibtreu claimed to have in-
augurated a new genre, that of the Schlachtennomlk\ his first one,
Dies irae (1884), puts the tale of Sedan into the mouth of a French
officer who is present at the battle; it is a curiosity of literature
that the French translation was taken to be the original and trans-
lated back into German. Equally readable - and excellent in their
unfolding of strategy - are Deutsche Waff en in Spanien (1885),
Friedrich der Grosse bei Collin (1888), Cromwell bei Marston Moor

1 The hero of Grossenwahn, despairing of Europe, retires to his Styrian
estate to seek the doctrine of salvation in Darwin's works.